SUNNYVALE (CBS SF) — A man killed in an officer-involved shooting during an undercover drug enforcement operation in Sunnyvale on Wednesday sold drugs to an officer just before he was shot, according to a police captain.
Juan Ruelas, 34, of Sunnyvale, was hit and later died from police gunfire moments after an undercover officer bought a pound of methamphetamine from him, Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety Capt. Dave Pitts said.
Members of the Santa Clara Police Department and the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office were taking part in the undercover operation Wednesday in the parking lot of the Hobee’s restaurant, at 800 W. Ahwanee Ave. near Mathilda Avenue in Sunnyvale, Pitts said.
Shortly after 2 p.m., the undercover officer received the drugs from Ruelas next to the suspect’s pickup truck in the Hobee’s lot, Pitts said.
Suddenly, Ruelas threatened the officer and said he had a gun, according to Pitts.
The suspect then made a movement that led the officer to believe he was reaching for a gun and a total of six officers in the area fired at Ruelas, hitting him several times, Pitts said.
No one else was injured in the shooting and police did not find a gun in Ruelas’ truck, Pitts said.
Sunnyvale public safety officers came to Ruelas’ aid but he died later at a hospital, Pitts said.
Those who fired shots at Ruelas included five Santa Clara police detectives, ranging in experience from five to 15 years, and a sheriff’s detective with six years on the county force, Pitts said.
Santa Clara police’s Specialized Crimes Action Team, or SCAT, and members of a task force from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration had been investigating Ruelas, Pitts said.
Undercover officers purchased methamphetamine from Ruelas several times over the past month before Wednesday, Pitts said.
Sunnyvale public safety investigators are leading the inquiry into the shooting and will forward its findings to the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office for review, Pitts said.
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